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Talking About the Dance

Spain
Kong is dead. That is to say, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is complete, and moving inexorably towards its July 12 publication date.

Yes, I know. Old news. I've announced that before. And since finally completing A DANCE WITH DRAGONS some weeks ago, and announcing it here, I have been working on... drum roll, please... A DANCE WITH DRAGONS!

That's the way it goes with books. You finish, and breathe a sigh of relief... and then you get back to work. There's always more to be done. Your editor reads it and gives you notes. You make revisions, corrections. A copyeditor goes over the text, finds errors, points out contradictions and inconsistencies, raises queries. You fix some, stet others. Friends and fans gulp down the book, and find mistakes your editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders all missed. You fix those too, as time allows. Then there's the appendix to prepare. And then the appendix needs to be edited, proofread, corrected... and on and on it goes...

But now even that is behind me. Copyediting, appendix, proofs, corrections, all that stuff. The book tour has been planned (a few details yet to be worked out), the marketing plans are in place... and I can finally say that Kong is not just merely dead, but really most sincerely dead.

Now that the dust is settling at last, I thought I'd take a deep breath and look back at what a long strange trip this has been. If the process interests you, read on. But beware -- past this point, there may be some SPOILERS lurking amidst my discussion. Read on at your own peril.

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( 266 comments )
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brett_andrew
May. 20th, 2011 05:21 am (UTC)
I'm so excited! Man, it is going to be a long 53 days between now and when A Dance with Dragons is sitting in my hands.

It's a big book, but it also is coming during the "slow" period at my workplace. I'm tempted to take a day off, and read the entire thing through cover to cover.

Interesting that a Certain Character Not Seen In The Past Two Books is the fourth largest POV in terms of chapters. That guy/girl is definitely a survivor, largely in spite of his/her actions.
manan_s
May. 20th, 2011 05:23 am (UTC)
Awesome
Congrats! Very interesting post. I think a lot of people think that you have a goal (say 5 pages a day) and if you just did that, you could have 1000 pages in 6 months....what's the hold up? Especially true if they've never written before...but obviously it's a lot more complicated and not at all linear like that.

Hope you enjoy the next few months of touring and relaxing - maybe I'll catch you at one of the events!
adam12harris
May. 20th, 2011 05:24 am (UTC)
Wow!
Congratulations! Wow, talk about a journey! I look forward, however, to reading the destination.
sirgarycolemans
May. 20th, 2011 05:26 am (UTC)
Great read and thank you!
I found this all terribly interesting! I'm glad you took us into your head a little bit about how things went down.

I only discovered these books a few years back, so I haven't had to endure the 5 year wait, but I definitely never felt entitled to seeing them out before you felt they were ready.

Although, I almost wonder if shorter (~400 page) novels could have been released to cut down on the wait. That'd probably kill the flow or something, though. That's why I'm not charge :P I'm just a fan and will continue reading this series until there is nothing left to read!

Thank you for hours of entertainment.
brett_andrew
May. 20th, 2011 05:27 am (UTC)
Sorry, I wanted to add one more thing
Enjoy the read. Me, I've got another book to write. Yes, climb right on my back... and what a cute little monkey you are...


I've heard that "middle" books in long-running series tend to be the hardest, simply because so many key events have to happen that then set up the second half of the series.

I read J.K. Rowling had some trouble with certain chapters in Goblet of Fire, for example.
mayday04
May. 20th, 2011 05:33 am (UTC)
Look on the bright side: it sounds like you already have a huge head start on the next one!
Thanks George. Really looking forward to it. Do I have time to become an English major at A&M so I can get a head start on the book (or some version of it anyway)? I'm kidding (sort of).

I'm glad your process will be so well documented. I've always found all of the backstory behind Tolkein's writing of LotR so fascinating, I'm sure many people will find your process to be similarly engaging.

The show is extremely good and very engaging, however my first and foremost passion will be to the books, and the day that the last one is finished will be a very happy and also a very sad day for me. I don't mind waiting for a while yet, personally.

I am curious though as to what the show will do when it gets to this point on HBO. Obviously some things are going to be very different, such as the age of the characters. It's one thing during season one for Bran to be 9 instead of 7... sure there are a few differences, but the gist is still the same. Characters like Jon had to have a few small differences, but the spirit is the same. Assuming 2 seasons for Storm of Swords and two seasons for A Feast for Crows and Dance (more likely 3 I would guess) the actor that plays Bran will be 16... at which point his character will be about twice the age as in the source material.

I suppose they could implement some tweaks such as feedback from you on some of the ideas you had for the 5 year gap scenario. Also, the shear number of characters! 16 more or less main characters on a show at once is a huge undertaking, even if it does center on just three of them. I suppose depending on your endgame for certain characters (Edmure Tully and the Blackfish come to mind) some characters could become composites, but still... it sounds like HBO will have a Kong of their own in a few years. Here's to hoping they pull it off as well as season 1 has been going.
Pechirolo
May. 20th, 2011 05:34 am (UTC)
George, you are the number one, thank you so much!! From Spain
lahela_sga
May. 20th, 2011 05:35 am (UTC)
People don't seem to comprehend the incredible amount of work that goes into producing such rich and complex literature - hopefully, this post will be a bit of an education for them. Thanks for sharing it with us, and congratulations again on taming that particular beast.
cyberghostface
May. 20th, 2011 05:39 am (UTC)
Congrats, and keep up the hard work.
escarboucle
May. 20th, 2011 05:45 am (UTC)
This is fascinating to read. No wonder I had this feeling since last year, that you were nearly finished with it (I've told this to my friends many times, based on the posts you made here).

Congrats!
charlie_en
May. 20th, 2011 05:48 am (UTC)
Thanks for the insight. I'm a big fan and am in the editing process with my first novel, so it's nice to get a look at how these things are for an established author like yourself.
woodsyonbass
May. 20th, 2011 05:48 am (UTC)
Congrats George! Thank you for all your hard work. I know I'll enjoy every word Kong has to say. :)
thupple
May. 20th, 2011 05:52 am (UTC)
Fascinating
I really appreciate you sharing this, George. I'll have fun pondering the spoilerish bits, but I mainly love hearing about your process. I'm glad to hear you are preserving your papers in a library. They will be instructive for any writer (of any genre). It also warms my heart to hear of your dedication to making this book the best it can be. Not that I'd expect any less of you, it is just nice to hear.

I hope you feel on top of the world. You have earned it.
ronderksen
May. 20th, 2011 05:53 am (UTC)
congratulations
Well, it took a few years, but hopefully you'll now be able to look back at the book with a great sense of accomplishment. I've enjoyed the previous books and I'm now enjoying the tv series a lot, so I have no doubt that I will enjoy ADWD.

And I hope that this new monkey on your back won't be the Son of Kong ;).
mj_automatic
May. 20th, 2011 06:01 am (UTC)
Cheers, Sir.

pheonix_torn
May. 20th, 2011 06:08 am (UTC)
Fantastic
That was a wonderful post. I love hearing about your process. I'm attempting to write a book, but find myself re-writing the same chapter over and over again, making new choices, and second guessing myself. It's nice to hear that some of the best do this too.
Thank you for sharing with your fans. We really do appreciate it. Looking forward to July 12th. I made my cousin's day today by telling him Dance's release date.
Buck Henry
May. 20th, 2011 06:10 am (UTC)
Is access to the early manuscripts at Cushing Library restricted? I should probably find out before I book my flight.
spacediamond
May. 20th, 2011 06:13 am (UTC)
Thank you.
I know for a fact that many of us appreciate this post more than you will ever know.

It is my sincere hope that someday after Dance is released and all proclamations of spoilers are laid, you will shed some light on the details of the Meereneese knot.

Posts like these are why writers should have blogs.
David Boshko
May. 20th, 2011 06:20 am (UTC)
Manuscripts...
I'd really like to see all of the various rough manuscripts published one day, sort of like the History of Middle Earth series, I'm sure it would be a fascinating read.
aharley
May. 20th, 2011 06:42 am (UTC)
Congrats!
It sounds like this garden was a heck of a tangle - I'm really looking forward to the surprising patterns you've managed to tease out of the story possibilities in ADWD.

Thanks also for this post about process - I enjoy reading about it, especially the bits about how you tune the books so well; they have an economy of phrasing that jumps out at me* periodically, even as I'm on my nth (>10 by now, I think) re-read.

After ADWD comes out, and we've all had a chance to read it, if you could do another spoiler-y post about the 'meereenese knot' and this last 'skull island' problem, I'd love to read about their genesis and resolution. Eg did the POV arcs all have a good beginning and end, but their intersection meant that some of the original ideas just couldn't work? What approaches did you try that didn't work out until you hit on the new-POV solution?

This may not be the best way to ask this kind of question, but what the heck. I'm eagerly awaiting ADWD, and I trust it will kick a**.

* as awesome
msconduct
May. 20th, 2011 06:42 am (UTC)
In equal parts fascinating and maddeningly tantalising. The only thing that got me through it without my head exploding with excitement is that fact that my book is on pre-order.
jolzhas
May. 20th, 2011 06:42 am (UTC)
Congratulations!!!
mizkit
May. 20th, 2011 06:54 am (UTC)
What a terrific process post. Thanks for making it! And HOORAY for Kong finally, really, truly being--well, he's hardly dead, is he. More like finally prepared to be released into the wild. A couple months of production rehabilitation and then he's out! Part of the world!

...which is really where Kong always belonged, isn't it.
gotjoe
May. 20th, 2011 07:02 am (UTC)
Thank you, George, for your incredible struggle.
gregormi
May. 20th, 2011 07:07 am (UTC)
Awesome News!
Thank you so much for posting this detailed description. I don't know why but it makes me feel confident in the quality of the book.

It is nice to see some insight into a writer's mind. You are the only of several authors I follow that is this forthcoming to his fans. I eagerly await the July release!
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